It’s been an interesting couple of days for me. Truthfully I hadn’t realized that there were a host of people who were linking their decisions not to vaccinate to their Christian faith:
- because some vaccines may have been developed using fetal cell lines (from several decades ago)
- because we should trust God–not medicine
- because the greatest good for the greatest number is “socialism”–not Christianity
- and, of course, because of the plethora of internet articles denying vaccine’s safety and efficacy
As I type this, I have a sore arm from (yet another) vaccine in preparation for our move to Malawi, I am grateful for the advances of medical science that have made the US so safe from many infectious diseases.
In other words, I am grateful for vaccines.
At the same time, I’m sad because I do think the anti-vaccine movement has gotten out of hand. (And, yes, I probably have already seen x, y, or z website’s argument for why vaccines actually cause everything bad; please don’t send me any more!) I’m no worshiper of science and medicine–they are flawed human endeavors, too!–but I still maintain that vaccines have helped more than they’ve harmed.
I’m also sad because good people like Paul Offit–a researcher, professor, and physician at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia–have received awful threats and slander for his good work advocating vaccines and even developing them. (You can see his books here.)
While we all have a responsibility to make good choices, I do think the anti-vaccine movement, in the main, has generated a lot of self-proclaimed graduates from the University of Google, and, by proliferating “articles” that “expose” supposed lies and conspiracies of the CDC and whomever else, muddied the conversation and made it hard for ordinary folks to distinguish between rigorous, responsible research and accumulated anecdote (these things are not. the. same.)
One final thing. I keep seeing references to “Big Pharma” and the attendant insinuations that these woefully ineffective and downright dangerous drugs continue to be required for school entry simply because the companies that produce them make a lot of money on them. I don’t want an answer–comments will be closed on this one, as I think I’m tired of “discussing” this for the moment, at least in this format–but let me ask this:
If we can acknowledge (as I think we can) that self-interest and greed influence, to some extent, much of what people do (you’d have to be pretty greedy & selfish to give children dangerous shots that do no good just so you can make money) don’t we also have to acknowledge that those opposing vaccines (loudly) probably (definitely) have some self-interest in it, too? Andrew Wakefield certainly did.
And yes, I have already seen the “articles” exonerating him and restoring his “good name.” Have you seen this article, showing how anti-vaccine suspicion is spilling over into South Africa and creating public health crises?
“…In South Africa, concerns about MMR, generated by coverage in the rest of the English-speaking world – including the UK – have led to an unwillingness to receive the vaccine, and there has been an outbreak of nearly 7,000 cases of measles. For children with poor health and limited access to medical services, this decision has been disastrous. There have already been hundreds of deaths.”
But the scare tactics are powerful–
“…just five minutes spent looking at websites critical of vaccines increases your perceptions of the risks, and reduces the perceptions of the risks of not being inoculated, according to a recent paper from a German group published in the Journal of Health Psychology. ”
Is self-interest, greed, deception, and suspicion part of human nature? I suppose so. But so are altruism, honesty, generosity and trust.
May God grant us all the wisdom and grace to move into that better side of our natures.